Vital year for future of waterfront

This year could be vital for future of Ipswich's waterfront area with work due to start on three major projects. PAUL GEATER looks at what's happening where – and when things should start to take shape.

This year could be vital for future of Ipswich's waterfront area with work due to start on three major projects. PAUL GEATER looks at what's happening where – and when things should start to take shape.

WE'VE all heard it before, but many people with an interest in Ipswich Waterfront are convinced that 2002 is going to be the year that things start to happen.

So far only one major new development has been completed – the Bellway flats at Neptune Quay.

But there has been interest at least, in many other major sites around the Wet Dock.

Some of this interest is well advanced with planning permission having been granted and work expected to start within weeks.

Some is in the earlier stages of planning. And some amounts to little more than an expression of interest in the land.

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But even if all these sites are developed, there will still be more land in the area available for residential development.

These are the key sites, and what's planned there.

1, The former gasworks site, Patterson Road.

Persimmon Homes is to build more than 350 homes here, both houses and flats with restaurants and shops.

Officials at Civic Centre are delighted that this is one of the first sites to be developed because it's probably the most heavily contaminated site in Suffolk.

The soil is full of toxic chemicals and there will have to be a major clean-up operation before construction work can start.

Persimmon engineers expect to start this work within the next few weeks – but don't expect to see any new buildings here until much later.

2, Neptune Marina flats, off Coprolite Street.

Redrow Homes has entered into a partnership with the marina to build 120 flats here.

The design has been amended since the first "Monte Carlo" look was unveiled two years ago and it is due to be considered by borough planners within the next few weeks.

If planning permission is granted, work on these flats is expected to start in the Spring.

3, Quay West, next to Felaw Maltings.

Bellway Homes – which built the Neptune Quay flats – are set to build a further 30 flats on the opposite side of the Waterfront. Work is expected to start during the spring.

4, Former Cranfields Mill, College Street.

The East of England Development Agency (EEDA) took over the former mill two years ago, and has carried out some remedial work including stripping it of asbestos.

It has been running a competition to find a developer for the site, and has now drawn up a shortlist.

EEDA hopes to announce its development partner by the summer of this year, by which time the future of the building should be clearer.

Ipswich council is involved in the discussions over the future of the site, and once a developer is chosen, work to obtain planning permission and then get on with the work is expected to follow fairly promptly.

The area is likely to become homes, shops, offices and restaurants.

5, Burton's Site, Cardinal Works.

Suffolk architects Wincer Kievenaar have submitted an ambitious plan for a cascading development of 70 flats for this site between College Street and Star Lane.

It has not yet been discussed by Ipswich Council's development control committee – and planning officials have serious doubts about the scale of the proposed development.

6, St Peter's Warehouse site, Bridge Street.

The site of the disastrous fire 21 months ago, an application has been lodged for a 12-storey block of 50 flats with shops and restaurants at the bottom.

Again this has not been discussed by councillors yet – and once more planning officials have great concerns about the scale of the development in what they see as an important gateway to the Waterfront.

7, Burton's Site, Foundry Lane.

A recent planning application which has caught officials rather by surprise. This is for a 17-storey block of flats with a partial conversion of part of the old factory.

With a total of 131 homes, it is very large – and while planners haven't looked at the proposal in detail, they have serious doubts about the scale of the proposed development.

8. Kemps Works, Mather Way.

Planners have been discussing an application for flats on this site next to the Steamboat Tavern.

9. Bath Street.

The largest single application for the Waterfront area submitted to the borough council, again by housebuilding giant Persimmon.

It wants to build 800 flats around a new 150-berth marina – a phenomenally expensive development.

It has not yet been discussed by councillors and is seen very much as a long-term project, unlikely to be progressed until sites nearer the town centre have been exhausted.

There are also major obstacles to overcome – access by road and the fact that the entrance to the marina would sever the dock railway line.

10, Patterson Road, Cliff Road.

Currently the home of timber company Anglo-Norden, there are no immediate plans to develop this site for housing.

However it is allocated for housing in the local plan stretching to 2016, and Persimmon Homes is believed to have an option to develop it at some stage in the future.

11 John Good Warehouse, Neptune Quay.

Allocated for housing in the local plan, this is a key site for the Waterfront. The frontage on to the quayside is listed and would have to be retained in any redevelopment.

THERE are also other sites allocated for primarily residential use in the local plan, which extends to the year 2016.

These include most of the "Island Site" between the Wet Dock and the New Cut, land around Great Whip Street and Gower Street, and the Parkside site between Fore Hamlet and Duke Street.

Ipswich Council should take ownership of the site next to the former gasworks when its landswap with Associated British Ports for the former Cliff Quay ashpit is completed.

The Waterfront site is expected to eventually be used for homes.

Suffolk College owns the former Eastern Counties Farmers site between Coprolite Street and the Bellway flats and hopes to build a new Waterfront campus there – when it has enough funds.